Every True Movie Buff Should ‘Get Shorty’

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/MGM

MGM is one of Hollywood’s most famous movie studios.  Launched during the golden age of cinema, the studio has released some of the industry’s most iconic titles.  Those movies include, and are not limited to, movies, such as 12 Angry Men, The Manchurian Candidate and Platoon.  It has also released its share of lesser-known, but still enjoyable in their own right flicks in the form of movies, such as The Man From Planet X, The Angry Red Planet  and Get ShortyThe Man From Planet X and The Angry Red Planet both received new Blu-ray re-issues last year courtesy of Shout! Factory.  The latter, ­Get Shorty­ got its own Blu-ray re-issue this past October courtesy of Shout! Factory.  While not one of the most memorable of MGM’s offerings, the 1995 satire of mobster and Hollywood industry flicks is still an entertaining presentation.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The cast’s work on camera adds even more interest to its presentation.  The bonus material included in the movie’s latest re-issue rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered, the noted items make Shout! Factory’s recent re-issue of Get Shorty another title that deserves far more credit and attention than it has ever gotten.

MGM’s modern classic mobster comedy Get Shorty is not one of the studio’s most well-known offerings.  It is, however, a work that deserves far more credit and attention than it gets and has received.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story.  Based on the novel by author Elmore Leonard, the movie actually makes a valiant effort to stay true to its source material.  That is explained in the movie’s bonus material, which will be discussed later.  The story follows Chili Palmer (John Travolta – Michael, Look Who’s Talking, Pulp Fiction) as he goes from mobster/loan shark to Hollywood producer.  Along the way, he has to dodge two other mobsters, one who pursues him because of his connection to washed-up producer Harry Zim (Gene Hackman – Enemy of the State, The Poseidon Adventure, The French Connection) and the other because of Chili’s connection to fallen mobster Momo (Ron Karabatsos – Flashdance, Hunter, Surviving Christmas).  To make matters worse, the head of a South American drug cartel is after the prior mobster – Bo (Delroy Lindo – Malcolm X, Up, Ransom), leading Bo to have a second reason to come after Chili.  The whole thing sounds like quite the contrived story, and it is, but that is what makes the story so entertaining.  None of it is meant to be taken seriously, as the story is a satire of all the mobster and Hollywood insider movies ever offered to audiences. The execution translates the story’s satirical nature quite well and makes the multiple story lines relatively easy to follow at the same time.  This makes the movie’s story all the more entertaining, and in turn engaging.  Writer Scott Frank (Minority Report, Logan, The Lookout), who adapted Leonard’s book to the big screen deserves his own credit for his work here.  Speaking of people’s work, the cast’s work interpreting Frank’s adaptation adds even more entertainment and engagement to the movie.

Reaching once again to the movie’s companion bonus material, there is a mention in the bonus material of the cast being serious throughout the course of Get Shorty.  This is despite, again, the movie’s full-on satirical nature.  While the cast did in fact act with full seriousness, it was also obvious that the cast understood and appreciated that satirical nature.  This is evidenced in part through Travolta’s cool, confident demeanor as Chili.  He played the loan shark/mobster figure “to a T” yet still presents a certain air that helps make certain scenes so funny; scenes that in any standard gangster/mob movie would have been so tense.  The same applies with Lindo.  The scene in which he is confronted by Mr. Escobar (Miguel Sandoval – Jurassic Park, Clear and Present Danger, Sharp Objects) and his associates about the disappearance of his nephew, Yayo (Jacob Vargas – Heaven is Real, Sons of Anarchy, Luke Cage).  The scene in question is another mob/gangster standard, yet even in the moment, there is something about the back and forth between Lindo and Sandoval that makes the moment so funny.  The best explanation that this critic can give is that the dry, witty delivery is actually over the top in its own right, leading the moment to be just as funny as it is tense.  Again, that can be traced back to Scott Frank’s work on the script.  The moment’s atmosphere was developed quite well through Frank’s work, and interpreted so well by Sandoval and Lindo.  The end result of the moment is more proof of how the cast’s acting helps to translate the movie’s satirical nature, and in turn makes the movie that much more enjoyable.  Between that moment and so many equally entertaining moments featuring Travolta and the rest of the ensemble cast, the cast’s work on camera exemplifies so well, the comical nature of the story.  Each actor did such an applause-worthy job of interpreting his and her part in each scene.  It gives audiences that much more to appreciate about this movie.  It is not the last of the movie’s most important elements.  The bonus material, which has already been referenced multiple times here, rounds out the movie’s most important elements, and proves once more what makes this latest re-issue so enjoyable.

Audiences will be surprised to learn through Get Shorty’s bonus material that Danny DeVito was actually director Barry Sonnenfeld’s first choice to play Chili.  Just as surprising to learn is that Travolta actually did not want to be involved in Get Shorty at first, nor did Gene Hackman.  According to information presented in the interviews, Hackman did not originally want to take part in the movie because he “did not do comedies.”  Travolta’s reasoning was interesting in its own right, and will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  As previously noted, the bonus content also presents a moment in which Frank reveals how serious the whole cast was throughout the movie and the impact of those presentations to the overall satirical feeling in the movie.  He was right, as those presentations really do go a long way toward enhancing the story’s comical nature.  Sonnenfeld’s discussion on cinematography, which is also featured in the bonus material, will appeal greatly to cinephiles who have a deep appreciation for the art of capturing camera angles, lighting, etc.  The bonus audio commentary reveals in just the first 15 to 20 minutes of the movie that the real Chili Palmer actually plays a cameo guest appearance in the movie’s first scene.  Also revealed is that then well-known musical act Us3 provided music for the movie’s opening scene.  It is also revealed through the commentary that there is a tribute to none other than The Godfather at one point in the movie’s run.  That reference will also be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  Between all of the extra information and entertainment offered that is noted here and that, which is not noted here, the bonus content proves to offer just as much for audiences to appreciate as the movie’s story and the cast’s work.  When the breadth and depth of the bonus material is considered along with that noted primary content, the whole of Get Shorty becomes a presentation – in its latest presentation – that is another welcome addition to Shout! Factory’s ongoing Shout! Select series.

Shout! Factory’s recent re-issue of MGM’s modern classic Get Shorty is a welcome new addition to the company’s ongoing Shout! Select series.  That is proven in part through the movie’s fully satirical story, which spoofs so many of Hollywood’s countless mobster movies and Hollywood business flicks.  The cast’s work interpreting that satirical story adds even more enjoyment to the movie’s presentation.  The bonus material that is featured in the movie’s re-issue present plenty of their own entertainment and enlightenment for audiences, too.  Each element is important in its own way to the whole of Get Shorty.  All things considered, they make Get Shorty a wonderful new addition to Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select series, and to any true movie buff’s collection.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:




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Shout! Factory Announces Release Date For ‘Get Shorty’ BD Re-Issue

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/MGM

Shout! Factory will re-issue MGM’s classic 1995 comedy flick Get Shorty this fall.

The movie is currently scheduled to be released Oct. 23 as on Blu-ray as part of Shout! Factory’s “Shout! Select” movie series.  It will be presented in a new 4K HD scan and will feature new bonus materials, such as a feature-length audio commentary from director Barry Sonnenfeld, gag reel and the featurettes, “Get Short — Look At Me” and “Get Shorty — Wise Guys & Dolls.”

The full list of bonus materials featured in the movie’s re-issue is noted below.

Special Features:
  • Remastered from a new 4K transfer
  • Audio Commentary with Director Barry Sonnenfeld
  • Featurettes: “Get Shorty – Look at Me,” ” Get Shorty – Wise Guys + Dolls,” “Going Again”
  • Get Shorty Party Reel
  • Page to Screen of Get Shorty
  • Vignettes
  • The Graveyard Scene
  • Trailer

Get Shorty follows former gangster turned loan shark Chili Palmer (John Travolta — Pulp FictionFace-OffGrease) as he travels to Los Angeles to collect a debt from down-and-out filmmaker Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman — Enemy of the StateSuperman IVThe French Connection).  His trip leads him to schmooze Hollywood figures Martin Weir (Danny DeVito — MatildaBatman ReturnsThrow Mama From The Train) and romances B-movie star Karen Flores (Rene Russo — AppaloosaLethal Weapon 4Ransom).  Things get even more interesting though when Palmer’s past comes back to haunt him courtesy of another mobster and a group of drug smugglers who are on his heels.

Those not-so-good figures are played by James Gandolfini (The SopranosEnough Said, The Mexican), Dennis Farina (Law & OrderSnatchMidnight Run), Delroy Lindo (UpMalcolm XRansom) and Jon Gries (Napoleon DynamiteMen in BlackReal Genius).

Get Shorty can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:


Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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MST3K Volume XXXII IS Yet Another Must Have Both For Series’ Long-Time Fans And Classic Movie Buffs

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of the most underrated series in television’s modern history. The series, which originally ran from November 1988 to August 1999, was on the surface a show that poked fun at the best of the worst of Hollywood’s history. On a deeper level though, it proved a show that actually celebrated that history in its own playful way. It is because of MST3K that so many then much younger audiences become the lovers of film that they are today. This critic is among that mass of cinephiles, or lovers of cinema. After its cancellation in 1999, it became relatively difficult to find the show anywhere, including online. Thanks to the efforts of Shout! Factory though, the series has been kept alive through an ongoing series of box sets, each containing four episodes from the series’ eleven-season run. And today, Shout! Factory released what is just the latest in that ongoing series of box sets in the form of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXII. Volume XXXII is yet another joy for any MST3K fan or film buff in general. The central reason for this is of course the films that were chosen for this collection. Shout! Factory has pulled four more best of the worst flicks. They are flicks that are so bad that they’re great even though their cast and crews would rather they remain forgotten.  Another reason that that it is another great set is the collective segments that break up the movies. The timing of Joel, Mike, and their cast mates make for plenty of laughs within themselves. And last but not least worth noting is the bonus material included with the movies. Cast member Frank Conniff offers new introductions to two of the movies. There is also a pair of background pieces on Space Travelers and Hercules that audiences will enjoy along with a pair of bonuses that focus more on the show. All of these bonuses by themselves offer plenty of enjoyment for MST3K fans of all ages. Together with the movies chosen for this set and the live action segments that break them up, MST3K Volume XXXII proves itself one more great addition to the collection of any movie buff and any MST3K fan out there today.

One hundred ninety-seven episodes and eleven years. That is how long the cult hit series Mystery Science Theater 3000 ran in its original broadcast. Throughout the course of time and those episodes, MST3K offered audiences more laughs than one can even begin to count. One of the reasons that it remained such a laugh riot for so long was its choice of movies and those movies’ associated commentary. That is just as obvious in the series’ latest collection of films. The movies picked for this collection include Radar Secret Service (1950), San Francisco International (1970)—which was the “pilot” for the short-lived series—Space Travelers (1969), and the granddaddy of all Hercules incarnations in the 1958 Italian import starring Steve Reeves. Gene Hackman probably doesn’t mind that Space Travelers is one of his far lesser-known pieces today, considering his body of work. And were he alive today, Gregory Peck would likely feel the same about the movie. Yes, it’s that campy. By comparison, Apollo 13 and every other cheesy space flick that has come along since puts this movie to shame. Yet it’s so bad that one can’t help but watch. By contrast, the 1958 Italian import of Hercules is actually campy I nits own right. But at the same time, it is just as enjoyable as it is campy. It could even be argued that its camp is what makes it so worth the watch, again supporting the central argument of why this collection’s movie selection makes it another must have for fans of the series. Radar Secret Service is just as campy both in its story and in its presentation. The story sees a group of government agents tracking a shipment of stolen uranium through the use of (yup) radar. The acting is just as cheesy as the story. It is pretty much on the same level as B-movie king Roger Corman’s classic sci-fi flicks. Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is os cheesy that audiences can’t help but laugh at it, in turn making audiences want to keep watching the movie. Still not enough? How about the standard cheese factor of the original Hercules (1958). The movie features one of the greatest of the demi-gods going on a quest for the mythical golden fleece. There is plenty of eye candy for the ladies. And for the guys, there is even an island populated by nothing but women that allegedly mate with men who come there and then kill them. And then there’s the over-the-top action of San Francisco International that takes place at a San Francisco airport. Of course as dumbed down and cheesy as that seems, there is plenty of material out there today that is even less intelligent offered to audiences. Keeping that in mind, it actually makes the likes of San Francisco International and the rest of this set’s movie’s all the more entertaining and important to its enjoyment.

The movies that were chosen for MST3 Volume XXXII are each equally entertaining in their own right. By themselves, they will offer their own share of laughs for both long-time fans of the series and for classic movie buffs alike. Of course by themselves, the movies can only offer but so many laughs. The segments that break up the movies (and the riffing during the movies) add to the laughs. Audiences will laugh uproariously when Crow and the rest of his robot buddies try to bring Mike back to himself in the skits used between Radar Secret Service. Their attempt to re-create his high school class reunion is a prime example of how the show’s mid-movie skits will leave audiences in stitches. Tom Servo’s speech between segments of Hercules about the ability to line up the stars to make any constellation is just as hilarious. It is so funny because it’s true. For eons, humans have passed down the knowledge of certain star clusters being specific patterns. Yet there are so many stars out there that it would be just as easy to take the same groupings of stars, line them up with other star groupings and make wholly different constellations. After all, who is to say that there couldn’t be a “sandwich” constellation? Audiences that watch this episode will get that joke. Speaking of jokes, the riffing during the movies expertly complements the mid-movie segments. In only a matter of minutes in Radar Secret Service, Mike and company take playful jabs at Harrison Ford, the classic 1975 sitcom Welcome Back Kotter, and even breakfast cereal Golden Grahams. If that’s not enough, there are jokes at the expense of the late, great Judy Garland and famed director John Sturges in Space Travelers (a.k.a Marooned). The writers playfully jab at Sturges that he had done much better work than Space Travelers, showing just how cheesy and over-the-top it was. There are plenty more jokes and riffs at which audiences will laugh uproariously throughout this set’s movies. They come so fast and furious that the only way for audiences to catch and fully enjoy them all is to pick up MST3K Volume XXXII. Regardless of whether for the noted skits and riffs or for others not noted here, audiences will agree in purchasing MST3K Volume XXXII that the laughs generated by each and every skit and joke more than make this collection of classic flicks a must have for any of the series’ fans and classic movie buffs alike.

The mid-movie skits and riffs offered up throughout the course of each of this set’s movies are a laugh riot. Between the zany skits, the jabs at all things pop culture, and the jokes in general, many audiences might find themselves laughing so hard that they cry tears of joy. That is thanks to the talent of the writers and to the choice of movies for this collection. For all of the enjoyment brought by the movies and the collective riffs and skits, they still are not all that makes this collection so fun for fans and movie buffs alike. The bonus material included with the movies puts the finishing touch on the set, proving without a doubt not only why MST3K Volume XXXII is a must have for fans and movie buffs alike, but also that this set is one of the year’s best new box sets for grown-up audiences. This time out, Shout! Factory has included a history on Space Travelers and its legendary director John Sturges and a history on Hercules producer Joseph E. Levine. There is also a fun little look at Frank and Trace’s trip to the U.K. for a sci-fi fan fest across the pond, and an equally entertaining piece focusing on the history of “Satellite News.” Space Travelers’ feature centering on director John Sturges spends a little bit of time going into detail on his body of work that included huge hits such as The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, and The Old Man and the Sea just to name a few. It compares those works to Space Travelers and its value versus that of this much bigger hits, explaining that is how the riff in the movie came to be. There is also an interesting point/counterpoint in whether or not its heads should have stuck with the title of Marooned or if going with the title of Space Travelers was better. For anyone that is a true lover of movies, this discussion in itself is sure to bring about plenty more discussions. Hercules’ feature centering on producer Joseph E. Levine is an eye-opener for cinephiles of all ages. It points out the movies that were brought to American viewers thanks to his efforts. As is noted in the feature, if not for Levine’s efforts American audiences might never have gotten to see the 1958 take of Hercules or another major motion picture in the form of Godzilla and other major foreign language films. Yes, Levine was even responsible for importing Godzilla. He is also the man responsible for bringing to audiences such hits as The Graduate, The Producers (go figure), and Darling among so many others. While it is not an extensive profile, this feature on Joseph E. Levine is still an important addition to MST3K’s latest collection of movies. It is just as important for any film history buffs, too. This feature and the piece on Space Travelers’ history are the central bonus features included in this set. That is not to discount the video post card that is Frank and Trace’s trip to London. or the “Satellite News” feature included in San Francisco International. Frank and Trace’s overseas trip serves to show the continued popularity of MST3K not just in America but around the world. That by itself is quite the statement. And speaking of statements, such a statement partnered with each and every other element noted here shows exactly why MST3K Volume XXXII is a must have for any of the series’ fans and for any classic movie buff. What’s more, everything noted here proves why this box set belongs on every critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups come December.

Whether for the movies chosen for the set, the mid-movie skits included in each episode and the riffing during the movies, or for the bonus material, MST3K Volume XXXII proves itself clearly to be a must have for any long-time fan of this cult favorite series. It also proves to be just as much of a must have for any classic movie buff out there. MST3K Volume XXXII is available in stores and online now and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-comedy/mst3k-volume-xxxii. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

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Timeless Media Group Announces Release Date, Details For I Spy Box Set

Courtesy:  Timeless Media Group

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group

Timeless Media Group will bring audiences yet another long lost piece of television history this Summer.

Timeless Media Group will release the classic series I Spy on Tuesday, June 24th. The classic dramedy series, starring Bill Cosby (The Cosby Show, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids) and character actor Robert Culp. It could be argued that the show’s witty writing and equally strong acting on the part of Cosby and Culp were the influence behind hit dramedies such as Monk and Psych. The series ran on NBC from 1965 to 1968 and produced a total of eighty-two episodes in that span. It won countless awards over the course of its three-year run including: the Golden Globe® for Best Dramatic Series in 1967, three consecutive Prime Time Emmys® for Outstanding Lead Actor for Bill Cosby, and the Prime Time Emmy ® for Outstanding Musical Composition for Earle Hagen. Cosby’s co-star received his own accolades for his work on the show. He was nominated for a number of Prime Time Emmy® Awards including: three Outstanding Lead Actor nominations and one for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama.

Along with its groundbreaking acting and writing, I Spy also featured a number of guest stars that would go on to be some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Those names include the likes of: Gene Hackman (Hoosiers, Enemy of the State, Unforgiven), Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo, Gilligan’s Island), Ron Howard (The Andy Griffith Show, Happy Days), Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Raven), Martin Landau (Ed Wood, North by Northwest, Mission: Impossible), George Takei (Star Trek), Don Rickles (Toy Story 1 3), and Eartha Kitt (Batman).

The upcoming release will have all eighty-two episodes of I Spy contained on eighteen discs. More information on this and other releases, including pricing and how to order the box set, is available online at http://www.timelessvideo.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.